Tag Archives: atheist

Day 20: Laughed At

Our second last day of summer evangelism wasn’t without challenges. Ricardo and I sought to speak with a young lady waiting for her bus. I told her who we were, where we were from and that we were out sharing the Gospel. She instantly felt awkward and started laughing. I encouraged her that these are important conversations to have. By God’s grace she was too nice to dismiss us. She engaged in a conversation that ended up recruiting a small measure of mockery (and some more laughing).

What follows is an abbreviated summary of what happened.  Y refers to the lady; P refers to me; and M refers to another lady who joined in.

P: What do you think of Jesus?

Y: I don’t know. (And looking at me as though this was a silly question).

P: Well, what do you know of him? Surely you have thoughts of some kind.

Y: Well, I don’t really believe in God.

P: Why do you hold to atheism?

Y: I just grew up with it and I’ve always believed it.

P: Well, in light of the world we observe, do you think it’s a more reasonable position?

Y: I don’t know.

P: Do you believe in the big bang?

Y: Yes.

P: Well, why do you opt for order coming from chaos over the idea that God created everything with order?

Y: Well, I’m not saying it’s impossible. I just don’t believe.

P: Well, have you ever read the Bible?

Y: Not really. But the Bible is not reliable.

P: Why do you think that?

Y: It was written by men.

P: So you’re saying it’s corrupted because it was written by men and men make mistakes?

Y: Yes.

P: But think about this: you are a person. So how do you know you’re not making a mistake in your judgement of the Bible. You said men make mistakes. (She seemed to understand my argument and her body language indicated that she conceded).

P: And surely it wouldn’t be too hard for an all powerful God to keep his Word pure, even through men. (She agreed on this theoretically).

P: The Bible is trustworthy and it clearly teaches that God created the world out of nothing, that he created everything good and that we are the ones who’ve messed up the world. We’ve sinned by disobeying God’s commands. And now we’re not good. And that’s why we feel guilt.  You ever feel guilt?

Y: Yes (smiling with the look of, “Why are you talking about this?”).

P: Me too. You know, the reason we feel guilt is because we have it. It’s that simple. It’s real, but that’s the very reason why God sent Jesus into the world. You know about the Cross? How Jesus died on the Cross and rose from the dead? The reason he came to do that was to save us.

Y: Wow. This is intense. (smiling)

M:  (Shouting from about 12 feet away, and with all manner of mockery), “What Jesus are you talking about?”

P: (I looked over at her and was silent for a few seconds, and with firmness I said back to her) The Jesus of Scripture that even non-Christians and liberal Bible scholars don’t deny existed.

(Though M was silenced, Y and M were now both laughing with each other at me).

P: (speaking to Y) Look, the reason we’re out talking to people is because these things matter and we care for you. Thank you for taking the time to let us speak to you. Take care.

At that moment Y walked over to M and the two became friends. We could overhear them laughing together and M saying how she needed to “save” Y from me.

By the grace of God, Ricardo and I prayed for them. And by the grace of God we truly considered ourselves blessed. But I really felt opposed spiritually. I felt little and despised by people. I was laughed at. I felt, in the smallest measure, something of what my Saviour felt. And it was good.

Day 4: Talking to Atheists

Yesterday marked the fourth day of our summer evangelism schedule. Three co-labourers joined me in spreading the gospel in Don Mills – what a joy it is to strive side by side for the faith of the gospel!  Out of the four substantial conversations I had, the first three were with atheists (back to back to back). Here is an abbreviated summary of the conversations:

God is a Myth

Arthur and I met an elderly lady at the street corner. We made some small talk but quickly asked her about her thoughts on Jesus and her religious background. She said she was an atheist. For her, any stories about God = myth. She grew up in a United Church, was very involved, but eventually parted ways, convinced that Christianity isn’t based on truth but fancy ideas. She said, “It’s for the weak.” (She speaks better than she knows; cf. Mt 5:3).

She kept saying, “I don’t need God,” and “I’m fine.” Eventually I responded (gently, yet firmly) with, “Do you think you’ll be saying that on your death bed?” I went on, “Look, everyone dies; you will die. I will die. And judgement is coming. Are you prepared for that?” My comments on death must have triggered her thoughts of funerals. She replied, “You know, of all the funerals I go to these days, they don’t really mention God much any more. They’re memorials about the persons life.” (She went on to speak of how nice that is). She basically told us that times are changing; people are finally coming to terms with reality; there is no God. Christianity (and other religions) is basically for stupid people who can’t live with the reality that there is no God, no hope after death and so on.

We tried to talk to her about the historical facts about Jesus, but she wouldn’t have it; she seriously questions the reliability of Scripture. It’s all mythology in her mind. We had some other questions for her as we sought to engage her and weaken her confidence in her atheism. I told her that she is suppressing the truth about God, but in a candid way she simply told us, “good luck as you talk to others; better luck with someone else.” May God show her that she needs him.

Scientific Atheism

Shortly thereafter, we approached another lady whose atheism was largely governed by her allegiance to science. I talked to her for a while about the usefulness and goodness of science. However, I also talked about it’s limitations, namely when nailing down issues of origins. The scientific method of hypothesis, observation, analysis and conclusion suffers in the study of origins; it’s too late to observe! She agreed and admitted that the theistic view of the origins of the world is no irrational. In fact, she said, “I know science and Christianity is compatible.” Even so, she prefers the atheistic model.

I spent some time arguing for a Creator based on the design in the world and then started to talk to her about morality. I asked her, “What is the basis for morality?” She said that it is cultural. And just as I was arguing for the incoherence and impossibility of her position, the bus arrived. I gave her some good Christian literature.

May the Lord show her that he is the Maker of heaven and earth. And may she come to worship the Son, who is before all things and in whom all things hold together (Col. 1:17).

“I Don’t Care” Atheism

Later on, I met a young man waiting for his bus. He was hard, tough and rugged. But he was friendly enough to carry on a conversation.  I could tell it was an inner struggle for him to keep talking with me, but by the grace of God he did. He told me he was an atheist, had no religious background and didn’t really care about Jesus or anything about God.

When he told me he was an atheist, I asked him what he thought of Jesus. With a cool and slightly annoyed spirit, he said, “Well, maybe if he’d drop down here and say hello, I’d say, ‘What’s up.'” I responded, “You think that’s what it would take? Well, what if he did, but not only that, what would you do if he told you that he is from God, Christianity is the truth and you must follow him. Would you?” He said, “I don’t know.” (Thinking of Luke 16, I am doubtful that he would). He assured me that he doesn’t care about these things. He told me that needs to work and provide for his family; that’s it. He said, “Another day another dollar.”

I asked him what he cares about. He said, “family.” I affirmed the value of family and told him straight up: “Look, 10 years ago, there’s no way I’d be on the streets talking to people about Jesus. Something happened to me. I started to follow Jesus, but I didn’t do it without reason. There are reasons that lead me to follow Christ. Namely, that it’s true. This stuff isn’t just in my head; it’s real. God, Jesus the truth of Christianity; this stuff just is, and I’m gripped by these realities.”

He said, “What about all the other religions. So they’re all wrong?” I said, “Jesus said he’s the only way to God. And I believe it. But hey, he’s either right or he’s wrong. The claim may sound arrogant, but it’s not arrogant if it’s true.”  He saw the logic yet still seemed quite sceptical.

Before long, he posed another objection, “But what about the Old and New Testaments; they teach different messages.” (I think he meant to say: “They are inconsistent”). I told him, “Look, the Old Testament is made up of 39 books and the main message can be summed up in one sentence: ‘Somebody’s coming.’ God had made a number of promises to his people. And the New Testament can basically be summed up in one sentence as well: ‘I’m here!’ God kept his promises. Jesus is the One who God has promised, and he brought salvation for us, those who have sinned and rebelled against him.”

The bus soon came and as I was warning him about the judgement to come, he said, “I don’t give a s#@t.” Then he said good bye. My heart really mourned over his hardness of heart. I believer Jesus is powerful to soften it. My goal was to put a stone is his shoe. By the grace of God, I hope it stays in there!

Well, that is a brief summary of part of Day 4. We had other more encouraging conversations with people who seemed more receptive, but I felt it wise to share about the difficulties of my conversations with atheists. Oh how they need the gospel and a worldview that can make sense of it! May the Spirit work in their minds and hearts.

Day 1: Summer Evangelism

Today marked the beginning of our 10 weeks of summer evangelism! Ewan lead four of us in some street evangelism at U of T. We started our time in 2 Timothy 2 and prayer. It was great to be reminded that “the word of God is not bound!” (2 Tim 2:9).

Arthur (who came with us) and I approached a number of people. I was surprised by the number of people who did not want to talk; I had heard that campus evangelism was more ripe for this stuff … maybe it had something to do with the crazy hot weather. Even so, the Lord provided 3 meaningful conversations that I’ll briefly recap.

Catholic

I approached a young man on a bench. He was kind enough to let me sit down and chat with him for a while about Jesus Christ and the way of salvation. Though friendly, he wasn’t very talkative. It was tough to  discern his interest level. When I paused to ask him questions and learn his thoughts he was rather silent. Who knows the way the Lord’ll use the word. I gave him 2 Ways to Live to read.

Atheist

The next conversation we had lasted a long time. We talked to a retired teacher passionate about socialism. Very friendly, but yes, quite zealous for socialism; he was out on the streets selling socialist literature (stuff on Marxism and Darwinism). I told him that I’d like to study more politics, but that I study theology and religion. I asked him about his thoughts on God. He told me he was an atheist. This lead to a long discussion about the existence of God, creation vs. evolution, sin, the nature of man, the problem with our world, God’s hatred of evil, Jesus Christ and his salvific work, judgement, morality, presuppositions and even more!

At some point in our conversation, he mentioned that his daughter is a Christian. He told me about her and her husband’s beliefs (which he learned through their conversations with him). I thought, “this man has been prayed for a lot; though he seems so lost and so certain of his atheism, I must seek by God’s grace to speak the truth in love for as long as he allows.”

At the end of our long conversation I had to tell him that he is suppressing the truth about God is unrighteousness (Rom 1). I’m not sure if he really understood what I meant, for he shook my hand and seemed very thankful for the exchange.

Atheist

I approached another young man sitting under a tree. He was friendly and allowed me to sit and chat. He was visiting from China, told me he had adopted his atheism from his parents and pretty much told me that he didn’t really care about anything else. I tried to engage with him from a number of angles, but he wouldn’t bite at anything; I wanted an actual conversation! Eventually I told him, ” Imagine that it’s all true? That there is a God; He’s real and we are all rebels not wanting to follow him, but that judgement comes and the only way to receive forgiveness for your sins is by Jesus?” He replied, “I don’t have a good imagination.” I was silent for about 15-20 seconds, sitting there is utter awkwardness. I thanked him for the time, gave him the 2 Ways to Live tract and journeyed on.

And how do I feel at the end of the day? Humbled. I wish I would have said this and I wish I would have said that … yes, my mind goes on. I should have prayed more before hand. I should have approached more people; I was shying away from potential opportunities. I should have … I should have … I should have … I should stop thinking about so many should have’s!

What I must remember is that God is good and he uses initiative evangelism; our labour is not in vain. His Gospel is not bound; who knows what it’s doing in their hearts right now! Reasoning with people with gentleness and respect is powerful. May the Lord cause His word to increase and may the number of disciples multiply greatly!

Please pray for us today. We hit Don Mills and Lawrence this afternoon.